Building Automation 2.0: The Next Wave of Smart Solutions

Smart buildings are set up to utilize a wide range of technologies and solutions that create an efficient ecosystem to run the entire structure. Traditionally, this market has keyed in on four main areas: HVAC, lighting, access control, and safety. However, with more advanced needs than automated lighting and temperature regulation, along with changing working environments, the smart building market has begun to grow and evolve.

New applications have emerged as either standalone solutions or to improve on existing building automation systems for enhanced sustainability. Combined, space management, environmental monitoring, asset management, and cleanliness & hygiene management will grow at 32% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) over the next 8 years to create US$2 billion in software and services revenues by 2026.

Next-Gen Solutions

With a wider range of concerns, goals to meet, and access to more data, building owners, occupants, and general contractors are targeting these newer sectors that go beyond the traditional smart building elements.

Space management solutions are being created and engineered with a variety of sensors, including contact, motion, and occupancy. Typically implemented into office buildings, new space management solutions are becoming more useful in significantly larger commercial buildings, such as airports or stadiums. For example, occupancy and motion sensors can also be used to help improve the speed in which travelers can maneuver themselves through an airport. Providing managers and building operators with those real-time insights can expedite decisions to deploy staff to relevant areas of a building. 

Environmental monitoring utilizes sensors that monitor noise levels, air quality, and natural lighting systems. These solutions enable the ability to see real-time conditions of areas within buildings and monitor room conditions that may improve overall occupant wellness and comfort. The sensors used for environmental monitoring can provide a greater overall review of the working area's environment, unlike space management solutions, which only assess the spaces being used within designated monitored areas. 

Asset management solutions are becoming increasingly important within specific commercial buildings, particularly in healthcare—helping hospitals improve their inventory management, lower operational costs, and automate their clinical inventory processes. For instance, the ability to place trackers on equipment can help hospital employees efficiently find it when needed, saving what could be critical patient time. Zebra Technologies is one company offering solutions that track assets specifically made for hospitals using RFID technology. 

Cleanliness and hygiene management is a newer solution for the smart building market. Georgia Pacific and Kimberly Clarke offer intelligent systems to run restrooms more efficiently. GP's restocking solutions use sensors that send alerts when soap and paper dispensers run low. As a result, their greatest value stems from reduction in labor costs through cleaning optimization, higher customer satisfaction, and improved sanitary conditions. 

Competition is Getting Stronger

As the smart building market evolves, the ecosystem is no longer limited to traditional Building Management Systems (BMS) vendors. It now includes the OEMs of consumables and construction materials adding complementary IoT solutions. Newer suppliers, most with wireless solution offerings, have more untapped opportunities with older, smaller buildings. Traditional BMS vendors risk falling behind competitors if their systems are not interoperable with these newer solutions. In an increasingly complex market with more applications, this versatility will be what differentiates all market participants. 

Our Smart Buildings 2.0: Building Automation report takes a deeper look at how wireless technology opportunities are expanding in the building automation market. It is part of our M2M, IoT, IoE research service, which includes research, data and analyst insights.